Over 160 hydropower industry, civil society and policy representatives met to address the challenges and role for hydropower in the clean energy transition, at a HYDROPOWER EUROPE online event last week.
The #HPEOnlineWorkshop was part of the HYDROPOWER EUROPE consultation process on a Research and Innovation Agenda (RIA) and Strategic Industry Roadmap (SIR). Stakeholders were able to debate and share their views on policy and regulations, technical challenges, and environmental and social issues affecting the future of hydropower in Europe.
As a partner in the project, IHA participated alongside other leading international and European organisations. IHA Senior Analyst David Samuel commented; “the workshop was a chance to hear from a range of stakeholders and discuss the opportunities as well as challenges facing hydropower in Europe”.
At the beginning of day one, representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General Energy and Directorate-General Environment introduced policy and regulatory issues as the EU works towards decarbonisation. A key point raised was the need for integrated energy and environmental policies, to ensure supportive planning frameworks for hydropower development. Next, technical challenges and research and innovation (R&I) priorities were presented including innovative concepts and technologies to boost hydropower’s potential. Collaboration among hydropower stakeholders and the public will be increasingly important for the sector.
The introduction was followed by four separate parallel group discussions. In the first group, experts shared their views on market structure and regulatory mechanisms to support hydro in Europe. The second focused on improving the European funding offer for hydropower R&I, and the third group explored the question of hydropower as a flexibility provider for the future European energy system. Attendees in the last group discussed the performance and resilience of existing infrastructure.
Day two kicked-off with civil society organisations such as WWF and the Global Water Programme (IUCN) addressing the impacts of hydropower on the environment. Best practices and solutions to make hydro more environmentally friendly were presented, with examples highlighting small-scale hydropower applications in the Netherlands, run-of-river projects using eco-friendly solutions, and effective system-scale planning for renewables development. Throughout the workshop, the importance of industry and civil society working together was emphasised as essential to ensuring public support.
Again, the second day ended with four parallel group discussions. Best practices and solutions to increase public acceptance of hydropower were discussed in the first group. The second addressed environmental solutions and benefits of hydropower projects. Finally the third and fourth groups focused on the environmental impacts on river flows and on biodiversity, respectively.
On behalf of HYDROPOWER EUROPE, IHA’s David Samuel moderated the group discussion on river flow impacts, for which technical support was provided by Egle Kareckaite of the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE). IHA Senior Analyst Cristina Diez Santos gave an introductory presentation on river flow impacts, with conversions then centering on sediment management. Dams and hydropower structures can affect the natural flows of sediment along a river, and so managing the issue is critical both for river health and efficient hydro operations. The group discussed case studies in Poland, Switzerland, and Italy, and concluded that site owners and policy-makers need to be aware of the risks and understand the range of solutions available.The recordings and the presentations from the main sessions are accessible once registered for the wider stakeholder consultation at this link.
Online consultation open until 31 October
The HYDROPOWER EUROPE Forum has been working on a consultation process through regional and technical workshops as well as online consultations. Feedback from diverse groups of stakeholders including hydropower experts, industry, civil society, environmental organisations and other interested parties is being collected, to help shape R&I priorities for the sector.
The outcomes of the workshop will help finalise recommendations for the future direction and role of hydropower in Europe. There is still time to provide feedback by participating in the 2nd Stakeholder Online Consultation. The consultation process will close at the end of October 2020.
‘This demonstrates a strong commitment by the hydropower industry and environmental NGOs to work together’ – Eddie Rich
The International Hydropower Association welcomes a “landmark” collaboration agreement between environmental groups and the U.S. hydropower sector, which recognises the need to tackle climate change with renewable energy while also preserving healthy rivers.
The joint statement was issued on 13 October by twelve organisations including the US National Hydropower Association, the Hydropower Foundation, American Rivers and WWF, among other groups.
The agreement outlines how the benefits of hydropower, including its energy storage potential, should be harnessed while protecting the ecology and environment of American water systems. This will involve accelerating the development of hydropower technologies and the rehabilitation, retrofitting and removal of older dams, among other actions.
“The parties agree that maximising hydropower’s climate and other benefits, while also mitigating the environmental impact of dams and supporting environmental restoration, will be advanced through a collaborative effort,” the statement says.
The agreement was brokered following a two-and-a-half year dialogue co-convened by Stanford University and the Energy Futures Initiative. It recognises that, of the 90,000 dams that exist in the U.S. dams, less than 2,500 are fitted with hydropower.
In a blog on NHA’s website, NHA President and CEO Malcolm Woolf commented: “Our nation’s electricity grid already benefits from over 100 GW of flexible, carbon-free hydropower and pumped storage capacity and has the potential to add more without new impoundments. I believe there is common ground to be found that will allow us to bolster the health and vitality of our nation’s rivers while also maximising the nation’s hydropower resources to address climate change. And with this agreement in hand, we can start down that path together.”
Responding to the statement, IHA CEO Eddie Rich said: “We welcome this landmark agreement between the hydropower community and conservation groups in the USA. Decisions around all technologies have to balance a mixture of local, regional and global impacts. It is heartening to see a maturing debate on the trade-offs of hydropower development. This demonstrates a strong commitment by the hydropower industry and environmental NGOs to work together to promote renewable energy and address climate change while preserving the health of precious rivers.
“Renewable hydropower is going to be essential for the clean energy transition. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that it is developed sustainably including by fitting hydropower capacity on to existing dams, modernising others and removing those that serve no purpose. This statement is a call to action for the environmental and hydropower communities around the world to work together on the biggest challenge that faces the 21 century.”
14 October 2020
A new training academy for hydropower specialists launched by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) will expand and improve knowledge in hydropower sustainability.
The Hydropower Sustainability Training Academy builds on IHA’s 25 years of experience in developing guidance on hydropower development, as well as its expertise in delivering training and capacity building. The courses are based on the internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Tools.
IHA’s Chief Executive Eddie Rich says the Academy marks a major step in widening access to knowledge about responsible hydropower development. “IHA’s mission is to advance sustainable hydropower. This new suite of courses aims to grow professional expertise across a range of sustainability performance areas. Restrictions on travel and social distancing measures as a result of the global pandemic have accelerated IHA’s plans to provide these courses virtually,” he added.
Comprehensive and practical courses
The Hydropower Sustainability Training Academy currently offers three professional training courses. Two of these courses are designed to help participants develop the skills and knowledge to become either a certified user or accredited assessor of the Hydropower Sustainability Tools.
The third course caters to practitioners who want to know how to accurately estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from hydropower projects using the G-res Tool. The courses will soon be available in a variety of languages with plans to expand the courses on offer in 2021.
Widely endorsed by industry, governments, financial institutions, and social and environmental non-profit organisations, The Hydropower Sustainability Tools are also aligned with World Bank and IFC standards. They are used by developers and operators around the world to design, build and assess hydropower projects of all types and sizes.
The training courses are targeted at professionals working with both the public and private sectors, including but not limited to programme managers, operations, energy, environmental, social, legal and dam specialists, and compliance officers.
IHA’s Head of Sustainability Joao Costa said: “IHA’s training courses aim to equip participants with essential knowledge about good and best practices on sustainable hydropower. Providing insights on matters such as biodiversity, climate resilience, financial viability or resettlement, the trainers will cover all aspects that need to be managed in hydropower projects.
“Participants will become familiar with the sustainability assessment process, and will be able to recognise how and when to apply the Hydropower Sustainability Tools to elevate the way hydropower projects are developed.”
Training track record
IHA has a strong track record in providing in-person and online training to industry, multilateral institutions and governments. In the past year, IHA has provided virtual training to 140 employees of the World Bank, IFC and the Indonesian government as well as private sector stakeholders.
Pravin Karki, the World Bank Group’s Global Lead Hydropower and Dams commented that “IHA's Certified User Training and G-res Tool Training have been extremely valuable to World Bank staff, ensuring we are up to speed on good and best practice in sustainable hydropower. The online format is effective and professional and we encourage policy and practice specialists in the sector to take advantage of these courses.”
Training courses format
IHA provides the option of either in-person or online training (in-person training is currently on hold due to the global pandemic). The online platform launched today provides a blend of live and self-paced learning. Participants in the online courses take part in virtual classrooms where trainers deliver live stream lessons, lead group activities and host interactive Q&A sessions. To complement the live sessions, participants work on self-paced activities, including reading, pre-recorded screencasts and individual assignments.
Upcoming online training courses in November and December
Certified User Training: a three-week Certified User Training online course will start on Tuesday 10 November 2020 (participants are required to attend live streaming sessions on 10, 17 and 24 November). This course will provide participants with the skills and competences to support and manage an assessment using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) or the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG). Find out more
G-res Tool training: a one-week G-res Tool Training online course will start on Monday 7 December 2020 (participants are required to attend live streaming sessions on 7, 9 and 11 December). This course will provide participants with the basic knowledge of geographic information systems and reservoir GHG dynamics to assess the GHG emissions of hydropower projects. Find out more
IHA is continously working with leading experts to create more courses, including specific topics from the Hydropower Sustainability Tools. Please sign up to the IHA newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to stay updated.
The International Energy Agency’s 2020 World Energy Outlook recognises the critical role of renewable and flexible hydropower in helping countries to meet their climate and sustainable development goals.
The report, published today, explores pathways out of the Covid-19 crisis, which the IEA says has “caused more disruption to the energy sector than any other event in recent history”.
Responding to the report, IHA Head of Policy Alex Campbell commented: “Under all scenarios in this flagship report, hydropower will continue to have an important role as a major source of low-carbon electricity as well as vital flexibility and storage services.
“As the IEA notes, flexibility is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of electricity security. As conventional gas and coal fired power stations are phased out, hydropower’s system services will become even more important to the clean energy transition.
Mr Campbell added: “It is vital that appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks are in place to properly value the essential services that sustainable hydropower provides in respect of energy storage, grid stability and other critical areas.
“IHA urges governments and regulators across the world to start planning now for the flexible grids of the future that will support the integration of variable renewables with reliable and flexible solutions like hydropower.”
By 2030, the hydropower sector is expected to generate more electricity than coal under the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, involving a surge in clean energy policies and investment. By 2040, nearly 850 GW of additional hydropower capacity will have been commissioned, mostly in the Asia Pacific region.
Even under the less optimistic Stated Policies Scenario, hydropower is still expected to see modest growth and will remain the largest low emissions source of electricity globally through to 2030.
Changes in the shape and variability of electricity demand and the strong growth of solar PV and wind power are increasing flexibility needs in power systems, the Paris-based agency says.
“As flexibility needs increase, hydropower will have greater value to systems for its ability to provide a wide set of system services across a wide range of time scales from improving power quality on a moment-to-moment basis to balancing seasonal variability,” the report notes.
Over the next decade, the IEA says investment in low emissions power technologies could average more than $650 billion every year, over 90 per cent of which could go to renewable energy technologies.
Read more news from IHA:
- IHA position paper on hydropower and Covid-19 published
- Renewable jobs report shows hydropower's global significance
- Renewables associations issue statement on the green recovery
- Hydropower CEOs hold discussion with IEA chief on need for sustainable recovery
Visit our Covid-19 communications hub.
30 September 2020
Hydropower is the third largest renewables employer, with almost two million people working in the industry, according to the latest jobs report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
A record 11.5 million people were employed by all renewable industries in 2019, of which 1.93 million people were directly employed in hydropower. China, Brazil, the United States and Canada were the top hydropower employers followed by Pakistan, Vietnam, Russia and Myanmar.
Despite its status as the world’s largest source of renewable energy and its “huge untapped potential”, IRENA says hydropower employment in 2019 was around six per cent lower than in 2018, as growth slowed and new projects were delayed in several countries.
As a consequence of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, IRENA projects the employment figure to fall further during 2020 given further delays in construction during national lockdowns.
In response, Eddie Rich, Chief Executive of the International Hydropower Association (IHA) said: “This report underlines hydropower’s global significance as a major renewable sector employer as well as the urgent need to invest in new and sustainable hydropower projects.”
“Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, IHA has highlighted the centrality of sustainable hydropower as part of the green recovery.
“IRENA estimates an additional 850 GW of newly installed hydropower capacity is needed by 2050 to help achieve the carbon reduction commitments of the Paris Agreement. This could generate an additional 600,000 skilled jobs over the next decade.
"To achieve this will require concerted action including improved financial incentives and compensation for the flexibility and resilience services provided by hydropower. The green economic stimulus packages begin announced around the world give us the opportunity to make this goal a reality.”
The jobs report comes days after the second meeting of IRENA’s Collaborative Framework on Hydropower, a forum initiated by the Swiss government and supported by 49 countries on 24 September 2020.
At the meeting, Mr Francesco La Camera, IRENA Director-General, cited hydropower’s role as a source of power system resilience. “As an enabler for integrating higher shares of renewable energy into power systems, hydropower is set to play an important role in the energy transition and will be critical to the decarbonisation of economies.”
“Promoting the continued deployment of hydropower has been, and remains, an important part of IRENA’s work,” La Camera said.
According to IRENA, hydropower is the cheapest renewable on a Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) basis.
Learn more about hydropower and the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.